keeping it siiimple

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. -Unknown

It seems that over the past few weeks Siiimple has been consistently refining itself – fine tuning – or tweaking – I guess is a more appropriate description. It’s just another example how a uncluttered design doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of thoughtful detail. Whitespace doesn’t mean emptiness. Minimalism doesn’t mean “without” or “absence” or “void”. There is a method to that open space. It is another element, a building block.

Learn From Rilke

When I think of minimalism in design, I think of Rainer Maria Rilke’s famous poem Duino Elegies, where he wrote:

Fling the emptiness out of your arms into the spaces we breathe;
perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.

The openness of design – that whitespace, that blankness – is the space we breathe. In that expanded air, we can create, define, master, embrace. Our eyes are directed to the content. The greater the detail in our simplicity, the more definite our attention to the substance from which the design is built upon. That’s is when you know you have a minimalist creation worthy of notice. When you effortlessly comprehend the content that the almost imperceptible details direct you toward. The subject of the design feels expanded and utterly comprehensible.

Plugins, plugins

Like great Typography leads us easily through the measure of a sentence, the general design of a site leads us toward a general impression of our experience within the context of a site – and if our impression is pleasant or comfortable, we usually find ourselves returning.

With Siiimple, I wanted, of course, to offer a pleasant viewing experience, but also I wanted to offer something of a community. This hasn’t proven easy. Luckily, I’ve stumbled across some great plugins (one of the reasons why WordPress is so awesome) that help create such a community.

The Community

The addition of the user submitted news section is something I’ve always wanted to offer. Fortunately I was able to implement a great plugin called FV Community News by Frank Verhoeven. What I liked most about it is how intuitive it is. It’s easy to implement, and there’s no real hassle. I don’t now if it’s still “active”, however. But what it currently offers serves it’s purpose well.

I added a simple member section with the help of the Member List Plugin – also not much trouble installing. I added the option for users to upload their own images with User Photo plugin – just a way for people to personalize their member image.

I use the plugin Customize Your Community or CYC to keep with the profile section in accordance with the overall aesthetic feel of the site. Had to tweak a few things here and there, but in general it was an easy addition.

For the register/login feature on the sidebar, I’m using AJAX Login by Jonas Einarsson.

My Favorite Berberoglu

Of course, there is the WP Favorite Post plugin by Huseyin Berberoglu, who very kindly offered to allow for the saving and storing of sites. There are still a few issues that need dealing with – such as adding pagination to the bookmark page. I’m working on that, but up to this point, I haven’t found a solution. If you’re reading this, and you think I’m such an idiot for not knowing how to do this – please let me know how to add this feature! I won’t be offended.

Font + Icons + Minimalism = Cool

I’ve recently changed the font from Helvetica Neue, with a weight of 200, to ff meta serif web pro, using Typekit to implement it. I thought it was time for a change after reading Trent Walton’s blog entry, Trimming the Fat. He’s basically a genius web designer – so I figured I’d try to learn something.

And finally I designed a set of small 9px by 9px icons that I’m using for the navigation. They’re nothing special, but I think they’re pretty cool – and fittingly minimal. Once I get a few more made up I will give those away in a package.